Spirituality and Distortion by Igorrr

Release date: March 27, 2020
Label: Metal Blade

The world may not (currently) be on fire, but under the black wings of plague, life has taken a turn for the weird. Perfect timing, then, for a new Igorrr album. Spirituality and Distortion is the fourth full studio album, and is excellent as a musical accompaniment to humanity’s accelerated descent into chaos.

That’s a bit unfair, actually. The music created by Gautier Serre and accompanying musicians is, in fact, very tightly controlled. It might sound chaotic, but there is a tight leash on display here, as well as some excellent chemistry between Serre et al. ‘Musette Maximum’ is a perfect example: the jaunty accordion melody anchors everything else, just as much as it serves the role of melody.

All of Igorrr’s songs exude this tightly controlled chaos. They sound like a mash-up of every sound in existence processed through Cubase. The glitchy breakcore is the grounding thread that runs through this album, while the instrumentation veers wildly between French accordions and traditional Middle Eastern fare like the oud or the kanoun. No, I won’t point out which tracks those instruments feature on. Part of the fun of Igorrr’s music is finding things out for yourself. Oh, and enjoy the guest vocals from George Fisher of Cannibal Corpse on ‘Parpaing’ – it’s probably the most legible his guttural roar has ever been.

 

All that aside, the album is not an easy listen. The breakcore electronics are caustic and abrasive, the drumming of Sylvain Bourier is as furious as it is erratic, and the vocals of both opera-singer Laure le Prunenec and demonic growler Laurnet Lunoir play off each other to create as many unsettling moments of weirdness and dread as they do wonderful moments of beauty. The album thus charts the contrast of spirituality and distortion. In the moments of beauty, such as the first minute or so of album opener ‘Downgrade Desert’, listeners have a chance to reflect and get in tune with the spiritual world around them. The rest of the album is a monument to the chaos and distortion of the real world, and what better time to listen to such an album than now?

So, is it an avant-garde statement about the world we live in? Yes. Is it also an artist experimenting with whatever takes his fancy? Yes. Is it an experimental mash-up of various genres in a wild rollercoaster of emotion, melody, and noise? Yes and no. I’d argue it’s less about mashing genres together and seeing what comes out and more that genre is irrelevant here. Serre is creating art as he sees fit, and most importantly, it all works. It might look chaotic when you investigate it thoroughly but think of it like an Impressionist painting – messy up close, but beautiful when you step back and look at the whole thing. Nothing could be taken out of any of these songs to streamline them. The album doesn’t ever feel bloated, and none of the songs feel like bum notes, dead weight be removed from the album. There’s no waste product, no time where you feel like looking at your watch to see if it’s over.

It is, however, more accessible than previous albums – inasmuch as Serre’s music can be described as “accessible”. Where Savage Sinusoid began with the sound of someone screaming in abject horror and continued the madness in much the same vein, ‘Downgrade Desert’ at least gives listeners a minute of gentle melody as breathing space before springing the chaos upon them. As a whole, the album hews closer to the proggy weirdness of uneXpect than the delightful darkness of Stolen Babies or the swinging jazziness of Diablo Swing Orchestra or Trepalium. But in places, it does feel conventional. George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher’s guest song, ‘Parpaing’, is as close to purely metal as it gets: tech-death with 8-bit glitchiness thrown in for good measure. This is not to denigrate the album as a whole: it’s still the Igorrr madness fans will know and love (although no chickens are involved, another farm animal (either a sheep or a goat) appears in album closer ‘Kung Fu Chèvre’). But it’s as accessible as Igorrr can be without devolving into purely one genre or another. Perfect for new fans who want the music they listen to this year to reflect the madness going on around them.

In sum, it’s the Igorrr as we know and love, made just a bit more open for new fans. The tightly controlled chaos on display is as challenging a listen as it is a wonderful artistic statement. We’re not alone in our madness: Igorrr is right here with us, and Gautier Serre has crafted the perfect soundtrack.

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